The Man in the Arena

Somewhere in Northern Italy watching one of my buddies fight. – Photo taken by me.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I just finished up watching the Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz rematch, and it inspired me to write this blog post. The quote above is one of my favorite quotes of all time. To me, it represents two things:

The first I, unknowingly at the time, understood at a pretty young age. That is the great privilege of chasing your dreams. In high school, music was my passion. It is what held me together through the tough times of adolescence. After high school, I was working in a factory and quickly found out that I didn’t want to spend my precious time doing that job, so I gathered the nerve to admit to myself that I wanted to go to school for Audio Engineering. I think that is one of the hardest things to do, to admit to yourself that you are going to take a risk. It is one thing to dream about it, but once you make up your mind that you are actually going to do it, it seems like it could be a big mistake. So, I packed up my stuff and moved to Arizona with my then girlfriend. It is important to note that this dream didn’t work out, but that’s not the point. The quote says “there is no effort without error and shortcoming”. So, after a couple of years chasing that dream, I had to make another hard decision which was to mark down that battle in my history book as lost, but it wasn’t the last battle.

After moving back home, again I quickly realized that time was slipping by and I wasn’t spending it the way that I saw fit. I made yet another risky decision by joining the United States Air Force. Now, 6 years removed from that decision and I have seen the world and met great people from various nations, but even still deep within this journey in the military I am chasing my dreams. One of my all time dreams is to become a published author. Not only just a published author, but an author that is read by many people. I think most can agree that this isn’t the easiest thing to achieve, but one thing that I always think about is that we are only on this planet for a short amount of time and then it’s over. So, while I am here I am going to chase my dreams.

The second thing that the quote represents to me (I know the first one was long) is that life is crowded with obstacles. This is something that I learned later on in life, mostly after joining the military. Military life constantly throws challenges and obstacles at you. As soon as I think that I have time to relax and not worry about anything, the next obstacle is presented. This coming week is my next big obstacle: the fitness test. Yes, this may not seem like a huge obstacle, but in the military a failed fitness test could uproot your whole life. Now, I believe in my gut that I have what it takes to pass, but it is the unpredictability of the body and mind that keeps me guessing.

I guess I am writing this from a place of self-reassurance, that I can overcome the next obstacle in my life. Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz just reached their latest obstacle, The Clash in the Dunes. One succeeded and one failed, but “at least he fails while daring greatly.” And, if I fail to become a published author, at least I can say that I tried. That is what I did with audio engineering. I will never feel regret of never chasing that goal.

So, maybe you are reading this right now and have an obstacle coming up in your life, or maybe you have always had a goal or a dream but never had the courage to pursue it. I hope that maybe this blog post will give you that courage or give you that reassurance that it’s only another obstacle. You’ve faced many before and there will be many to come after. That’s what life is all about, facing obstacles and overcoming them. I’ve tried to mold my life around chasing dreams and overcoming obstacles so that when my life comes to an end, I can truly say that my “place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Published by Jacob Fite

My name is Jacob, I'm 30 years old and currently serving in the USAF. Born in Sheridan, Arkansas, USA. I love writing poetry and stories. My first completed story, The Drip can be found here on my blog.

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